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February 19, 2012

Tip of the Week 

Insurance Against Mediocrity 


What it is:  A condescending attitude broadcasting that you are the only person with something worth listening to. 

Why It's Important:  Creates the opposite environment for influence:


The Problem:  Habit, Attitude, Survival (oh my!)

  • Habit:  Your job is to talk or teach during the day.
  • Attitude:  You think your ideas are always right.
  • Survival:   Being right equals strength - survival of the "rightest."

Regardless the reason, people stop listening to a broadcasting know-it-all.

The Tip: 10 Edgy Questions

If you’re trying to strengthen your relationship with a know-it-all, or you suspect that you have become one, experiment with a few of these edgy questions that, when asked nicely and curiously, will surely grab the attention of even the most righteous.   

  1. Are you aware that you spend a lot of time trying to convince me how intelligent you are?
  2. I'm used to having 2-way conversations, why are you dominating this one?
  3. Do you realize that you're telling me things that I already know?
  4. Do you realize that you’re telling me things that I don't really need/want to know?
  5. Is your biggest fear that you'll appear ignorant?
  6. Whoa, why are you trying so hard to convince me?
  7. Why do you talk so much? What are you hoping to gain?
  8. Are you trying to impress me?
  9. Am I the only person in your life who really listens to you?
  10. Do you just want me to be your audience? 
I know, I know . . .

Yes, these may be difficult to ask someone you care about—especially if that “someone” is you.  Take some time to weight the risk with the benefits:

  • If the risk is less than the frustration – ask.
  • If the risk is greater than your frustration – ask anyway.

Frustration stinks up a relationship and robs you of your power to influence.  Tolerating a “know-it-all” creates a bad habit of thinking you have little value to contribute.


Remember to sharpen your communication skills and pick your timing or your words won’t reach anyone’s ear.

Benefits:  In addition to the influence supporting environments above, consider this gem from John Wooden:

“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”


Related Articles:  Top 10 Benefits of Genuine Curiosity,

Related Tip of the Week:  Powerful Listening, Awareness,

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